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Language Development

It has been suggested that language development may begin in the womb. A study by
Fitzpatrick found that the heart of an unborn baby would slowwhen hearing its mother's

Pre-verbal Stage

The first main vocal expression a baby will make is cryingwhich is an instinctive response to…

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At this stage, babies start to exercise their mouthand start to learn how to move their lips
and tongue in order to create sounds.

They start with using vowels such as

u, a
before starting to link them in order to produce extended vowel combinations

ooo, aah

After this they…

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ma-ma-ma, ga-ga-ga
When they babble and do not repeat the sounds, this is called variegated babbling.
It is argued that babbling is a continuation of sound experimentation and that the sounds
still do not carry meaning.

The number of
phonemes a child in the
babbling stage uses
increases which is…

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meaning they want more food

These are called proto-words. Sound and meaning start to come together around 10

`Ma-ma' meaning mum

Children should be able to use all of the vowels in the English language by the time they are
2 and a half years old. Confidence with…

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There are other common features in phonological development that help a child pronounce
Addition ­ vowel added to the end of a word, dog pronounced dogu
Assimilation ­ when one consonant is changed because of the influence of another,
tub becomes bub
Reduplicating ­ phoneme is repeated, moo-moo


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Intonation patterns...
Cruttenden 1985 found that it was hard for children to fully understand how complex
intonation is. They found it difficult to distinguish between
"She dressed, and fed the baby"
"She dressed and fed the baby"

Pragmatic Development

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These functions are used so the child can satisfy their social, emotion and physical needs.
The next 3 are to help the child come to terms with their environment.

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Halliday 1975 7 functions of child's language

Children learn to interact before they can speak and learn social conventionthrough
interaction with their caretaker's. `Peek-a-boo' teaches turn-taking.
Caretakers will talk to babies as they babble as though it is a real conversation which
teachers they child how to have a…

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Whilst a child can only use around 50 words at 18 months, they can understand around
Their first words normally relate to their immediate surroundings.
Words that express
concepts appear when the child becomes more self-aware.

Nelson 1973 studied the first 50 words of 18 children
and grouped them…

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Rescorla 1980 found 2 types of overextension
Categorical Analogical

Overgeneralisation is when a child applies a
grammatical rule incorrectly which is seen
as a virtuous error as everyone does it and
it is a natural process.

`Look at the mans'

Aitchison 1987 suggested 3 development processes


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